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Westeros

Of Bankers and Princesses

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The Iron Bank’s business with Dorne appears to have been settled at last—at least, as evidenced by the departure of the bank’s envoys to the Planky Town and away across the narrow sea on a purple-hulled galley. They had largely retreated to the manse they leased from a merchant, and saw few visitors… but occasionally they accepted invitations to dinners and feasts with guildsmen and traders and even lords and ladies of the realm. Yet on these occasions they revealed almost nothing about what had made them come to bring pressure to bear on Sunspear, saying only it was a matter for the Prince of Dorne and that the Iron Bank required discretion in all things. Speculation, as always, ran wild, but even Prince Maron revealed little enough. Instead, courtiers watched who had audiences with the prince, and who took part in closed sessions of the prince’s councils. The rumors that developed were a welter of confusion: that the powerful noble houses that had taken over loans for struggling merchants had tipped the scale in favor of the Martells, or that in fact they had made the bankers angrier at seeing their leverage over Dorne lessened; that Amalea Parnel’s marriage to an orphan of the Greenblood was attended by the bankers, or that in fact they had loudly rejected an invitation to attend; that Ser Mavros Uller, once an exile across the narrow sea, had proved invaluable in resolving the situation… or that an agent he had dispatched across the narrow sea was little more than an assassin, sent to try and murder the exiled former Sealord of Braavos.

The only thing that could be said with any certainty, in the aftermath of the departure of the bankers, is that Uller seems to have steadily climbed in Prince Maron’s esteem, much as the knight had been in the confidences of the prince’s father. Marence, for his part, remained well out of the way of his son, and if he consulted with him it was only briefly. Indeed, the former Prince of Dorne, still weak of body and easily tired, has begun to make plans to return to Starfall again as a guest of Lady Dayne. Some say that Prince Maron has begged his father to stay longer, to help him with his sage advice, perhaps even to assist him in finding a betrothed—many indeed are the young maids of Dorne who have found their way to the court, hoping to catch his eye as their mothers and fathers hope to make a royal marriage tie—but it seems the Marence will not be dissuaded. Even with the court buzzing with the fact that Prince Maron has been examining all parts of his court quite closely, meeting with courtiers both high and low, has not made Marence seem any more likely to pause his departure even as his son seems on the verge of making some decided changes to his court. Many of the oldest and most experienced courtiers, in particular, seem to expect that the young prince will want younger men and women about him…

And away in King’s Landings, matters are different: the court is stable enough, its crowned head less so. King Baelor is in the throes of agony over the disappearance of his sister Daena, who escaped the Maidenvault to parts no one knows where. Searches have been made in all parts of the Red Keep, with wild rumors claiming a pair of guards who were sent to examine one of Maegor the Cruel’s old hidden passages have not been heard of since and are presumed to have lost their way or perhaps even fallen into some trap that bloodthirsty king of old had had placed there. Rewards have been posted in King’s Landing for information, and though many have come forward with claims both plausible and wild, none have advanced the search. Companies of the Watch have been sent beyond the City Walls, ravens have been sent out to castles and towns and keeps, lords of ports have been commanded to double or even triple their guard to more closely question anyone who seeks passage, knights have vowed to quest throughout the Seven Kingdoms without rest until the princess is safe returned… and nothing. Daena appears to have vanished. Her sisters and her ladies can provide no more information than they have, it seems, or at least King Baelor will not allowed them to be pressed further (it was suggested that the Lord Confessor might question them more closely, but this step was one the king would not countenance, and indeed Prince Viserys soon after dismissed the knight who made the suggestion from the king’s service).

The king can do little, but pray. He hardly eats, they say, and has passed sleepless nights hoping the Seven will guard his sister wherever she is, and deliver her from whatever evil has taken her away.

Of good news, there has been little enough: matters in the narrow sea are calm, though the merchants of the Seven Kingdoms have wondered at the rumors from Dorne and Braavos regarding the Iron Bank, and the realm at large is at peace. The establishment of Princess Mariah at court has gone with little trouble, and there was some cause for celebration when it was announced that she was with child but the king would have no feast for the occasion, instead offering a mass of thanksgiving and blessing before returning to his prayers for Princess Daena.

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